Japan and China have canceled bilateral talks on a U.N. maritime treaty after Beijing reacted angrily to Japan’s arrest of seven Chinese on a disputed island in the East China Sea last week, Japanese government officials said Wednesday.
Japan had planned to ask China to stop its maritime research using boats in Japan’s exclusive economic zone without advance notice and comply with the U.N. Convention on the Law of the Sea during the canceled talks involving senior working-level officials, the officials said.
The meeting was scheduled for Tuesday and Wednesday in China, and officials from the Foreign Ministry and the Japan Coast Guard were to attend.
The talks were canceled amid growing concern that China’s anger at Japan’s detention of the seven activists could affect bilateral diplomatic schedules, including those not directly linked to the territorial dispute.
The activists landed March 24 on Uotsuri Island, one of the uninhabited islands in the East China Sea controlled by Japan whose ownership is disputed by the two countries. The islands in question — known as the Senkaku Islands in Japan and the Diaoyu Islands in China — are also claimed by Taiwan.
Japan seized control of the islands after winning a war with China in 1895.
Following World War II, the United States administered the islands until 1972, when it handed them to Japan.
China contends its claim to the islands goes back hundreds of years.
The activists said they landed on the island intending to highlight China’s claim. Japan accused them of trespassing and deported them to China.
Tokyo has also been complaining to Beijing about the increase in China’s maritime research in the Japanese EEZ.